From Adam to ʿĀdil Shāh: Rethinking Inter-Religious Encounter in the Tārīkh-i Firishteh

In: Journal of South Asian Intellectual History
Jonathan R. Peterson University of Toronto

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Despite the Tārīkh-i Firishteh’s continued importance for scholarship on early-modern South Asia, little attention has been paid to analyzing the text’s introduction, where its author, Muḥammad Qāsim Astarābādī (Firishteh), articulates a conception of historical time in part by critiquing the Mahabharata. Existing scholarship on the Introduction has invoked the conceptual framework of ‘encounters’ between Persianate and Sanskritic cultural spheres, where Firishteh’s critique of the Mahabharata is made possible through Mughal engagement with Sanskrit texts. By analyzing two registers of the Introduction—tārīkh as a mode of historical narration central to dynastic legitimation, and Abū al-Fażl’s use of the Mahabharata as a way to critique certain Abrahamic conceptions of genesis—this paper suggests that the language of ‘encounter’ is ultimately ill-suited to understanding the Introduction’s most controversial passages.

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